Mt. Pleasant’s Dayton Pitzer a win away from 3rd state title

Friday, March 11, 2022 | 10:46 PM

HERSHEY – Mt. Pleasant senior Dayton Pitzer doesn’t have a nickname.

If he did, it could be “The Fall Guy.”

Pitzer used two pins Friday during Day 2 of the PIAA Class 2A championship at the Giant Center and is one win from becoming the 49th three-time champion in state history. Two other wrestlers – Saucon Valley senior Ryan Crookman and Forest Hills senior Jackson Arrington (152) – are also attempting to win a third title.

He might have been a four-time champion, but an injury prevented from competing in 2020.

Pitzer (44-0) pinned Brookville senior Bryce Rafferty in the first period for his 99th career pin. Earlier in the day, Pitzer pinned Berks Catholic sophomore Brody Kline in 58 seconds.

He’ll face West Perry senior Brad Morrison (48-1) in the 215-pound finals at 2 p.m.

“I think the 100 pins is in the back of my mind, but at the end of the day, I have to focus on wrestling and staying in good position,” Pitzer said. “If I push the pace, the pin will come. But staying in position and doing what I do is the key.”

Pitzer took Rafferty down, but Rafferty was able to escape. The next time Pitzer took Rafferty down, he used an arm bar to record the fall.

“I don’t know what game plan my opponents have, but me making the guy react to me and not reacting to them is a key thing,” Pitzer said. “I try to go out and wrestle my match.”

Pitzer said the pressure he feels comes at practice.

“I want to be the best I can be,” Pitzer said. “I’m putting pressure on myself for competing. I’m confident in how I train and what I do to prepare for competition. I feel good, but I feel everyone gets a little nervous.”

Derry senior Christian Hirak lost in the quarterfinals, but he won his blood round match and will wrestle for seventh place.

The other returning state champions from the WPIAL — Laurel junior Grant MacKay (160 pounds) and Frazier sophomore Rune Lawrence (172) – advanced to the finals.

MacKay defeated Newport senior Ganon Smith, 6-2. He’ll face Notre Dame-Green Pond junior Holden Garcia.

Lawrence pinned Canton junior Riley Parker in the second period. He’ll face Saucon Valley junior Jake Jones.

In Class 3A, the WPIAL advanced 20 wrestlers to the Class 3A semifinals at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and nine of them are from Westmoreland County.

Leading that list are three previous PIAA champions: Latrobe junior Vinny Kilkeary, Hempfield senior Briar Priest and Franklin Regional senior Finn Solomon.

Kilkeary (44-2) advanced with a 7-2 victory against Quakertown sophomore Mason Ziegler. He’ll face Manheim Township sophomore Kamdyn Williams, who defeated Kilkeary in the West Region in 2021.

“I felt I wrestled well and got to my attacks,” Kilkeary said. “It’s a new match, new year and a new me. I worked hard all summer and all season. I’ll give it my all.”

It was Kilkeary’s 100th career win.

Priest (36-2) advanced with a 3-0 win against Wilson senior Dominic Jurado. He’ll face Downingtown West senior Dominic Findora.

Solomon (39-2) pinned Williamsport senior Riley Bower in the second period. He’ll face Boyertown senior Chance Babb in the semifinals.

The finals are slated for 7 p.m.

The other county winners were Latrobe freshman Luke Willochell (106), Franklin Regional sophomore Ty Kapusta (106), Hempfield junior Ethan Lebin (126), Kiski Area senior Enzo Morlacci (160), Belle Vernon senior Cole Weightman (215) and Greensburg Salem senior heavyweight Billy McChesney.

Willochell advanced with a pin. Kapusta earned his second upset win of the tournament by defeating Council Rock North freshman Eren Sement with a takedown in overtime for a 3-2 win.

Lebin blanked Clearfield freshman Brady Collins, 8-0, and Morlacci defeated Nazareth senior Ryan Fairchild, 11-6.

He’ll face Connellsville senior Jared Keslar, who defeated Council Rock South senior Matt Colajezzi, 5-3. Colajezzi was ranked No. 1 in the state prior to last week’s loss in the Southeast Region final.

“I was really excited to wrestle him,” Keslar said. “I figured I’d have to wrestle him sooner or later. It was to my advantage to wrestle him sooner.”

Weightman survived a few questionable calls to defeat Central Bucs West senior Carl DiGiorgio, 8-7.

“I’m exhausted,” Weightman said. “It was a great battle. I’m glad I advanced.”

McChesney used a takedown with 25 seconds left to defeat Clearfield senior Oliver Billotte, 3-1.

“It was a good match. He’s a very good wrestler,” McChesney said. “I’ve beaten him three times before, and it’s always close.”

Others guaranteed medals are Penn-Trafford senior Troy Hohman (120), Hempfield junior Lucas Kapusta (145), Latrobe senior Jack Pletcher (152), Belle Vernon senior Logan Hoffman (172), Franklin Regional sophomore Juliano Marion (189) and Latrobe junior Corey Boerio (215).

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at

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